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Tropical Storm Irene remembered in hardest hit communities

Town of Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, left, and town Highway Department employee Ryan Hall Tuesday, Aug. 28 put up one of two banners on the Marcy Field building thanking people for supporting the recovery effort for Tropical Storm Irene, which caused a lot of damage to roadways, bridges and buildings. It was the one-year anniversary of the storm.

Town of Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee, left, and town Highway Department employee Ryan Hall Tuesday, Aug. 28 put up one of two banners on the Marcy Field building thanking people for supporting the recovery effort for Tropical Storm Irene, which caused a lot of damage to roadways, bridges and buildings. It was the one-year anniversary of the storm. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Driving home from vacation last week, Essex County Board Chairman and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas passed a line of vehicles that immediately sent him back in time.

“My wife and I were on our way home from Florida when we came across a convoy of power company trucks heading into Florida to prepare for Hurricane Isaac,” Douglas said. “Emotionally, it brought back some memories.”

The memories are not happy ones for Douglas, Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee or the other supervisors, town residents and property owners who suffered through the effects of Tropical Storm Irene, effects that are still being felt one year later.

“I think that I have learned over the past year is that you have to have patience,” Ferebee said. “Any time that you deal with things in government, there has to be patience. FEMA and other government agencies came in and they would be here for one day and then be gone.”

Video

Tropical Storm Irene Footage

Clips from Westport, Elizabethtown and Keene, during & after Tropical Storm Irene swept through the Adirondacks on Sunday, August 28, 2011.

Clips from Westport, Elizabethtown and Keene, during & after Tropical Storm Irene swept through the Adirondacks on Sunday, August 28, 2011.

“It will take at least five years before we can say that we are at a level where we are fully recovered,” Douglas said. “It changed us. We thought that we were very well prepared for a situation like this, but now I don’t think that there was any way we could have been truly prepared for what Irene did to us.”

Prior to Aug. 28, 2011, the town supervisors had spent an evening together at dinner, along with Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston.

“Preston thought we might be making too big a deal over it, but I couldn’t stop being worried,” Douglas said. “The next morning (Aug. 27), I called my staff together to put a plan in place if there should be a need. We had a plan in place and we did the best that we could.”

Ferebee said that he relied on growing up in Virginia and having experienced hurricanes before.

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